Lasting Powers of Attorney; what you need to know
By Victoria John, Wills & Probate Solicitor
In an age where so many of us are carers for our parents at the same time as providing for our children, is it time to ask who will take care of the carer?
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are normally thought to be needed by the older generation, something we talk to our parents and grandparents about to enable us to assist them in their daily lives as they grow older.
However, LPAs aren’t just for the elderly. LPAs can be made by anybody over the age of 18 provided they have the capacity to understand the document they are signing.
None of us know what is around the corner so it’s time to think about who you would want to assist you in decision making if you ran into difficulties?
There are two types of LPA:
An LPA for property and financial affairs
This type of LPA allows your attorney to deal with your financial affairs. For example, to pay your bills, sell your property or investments and operate your bank accounts.
Unless you specify otherwise in your LPA, your attorney can use your LPA while you still have capacity to make financial decisions yourself. If you allow your attorney to make decisions before you have lost mental capacity, it does not mean that they automatically make all financial decisions for you, it just means that they can make these decisions if you allow them to at the time. This can be helpful if you are unwell or on holiday for an extended period of time.
An LPA for health and welfare
This type of LPA allows your attorney to make decisions about matters such as your medical treatment, your diet, where you live and how you spend your time. Unlike the LPA for property and financial affairs, your attorney can only use it when you have lost the mental capacity to make decisions yourself.
Your attorney cannot make decisions about life-sustaining treatment unless you specifically allow this in the LPA. Life-sustaining treatment includes ventilation to help with breathing, feeding through a tube and resuscitation.
LPAs do not take away a person’s rights to make their own decisions. Provided an individual has capacity they would still have the final say in any matter but they would have the ability for others to assist them in making those decisions and convey those decisions to third parties if necessary, with the added protection from the Court if any person tried to take advantage.
Why are LPAs important?
- It enables us to choose who we would want to assist us in the future.
- It avoids our close ones having the potential stress of having to make applications to the Court at a later date.
- It is a lot cheaper and quicker to put something in place now rather than in the future.
How long do LPAs last?
Registered LPAs last from the time of creation until death unless they are revoked.
Who should make LPAs?
- Us – no one wants to think about being incapable of dealing with things in the future BUT it could happen. If it did at least you know by having LPAs in place you have chosen the person(s) who will assist you.
- Our parents/grandparents – we want to be able to help the older generation. They may struggle as they get older, maybe they won’t have capacity issues but mobility may cause them a problem and prevent them from getting out and about. Registered LPAs would allow a person(s) of their choosing to assist them and give protection from the Court to both parties.
- Our adult children – anyone over 18 can make an LPA provided they have capacity. Our children may have difficulties, anxiety or other issues which may prevent them from understanding and communicating decisions to others. They may be vulnerable and you are worried people may try to take advantage of them in the future. LPAs can assist and allow a person of their choosing to help them.
LPAs are not compulsory, however, if you were to lose capacity in the future or be unable to make a decision for any other reason having LPAs in place will ensure that the person(s) of your choice will be the ones who assist you and will save your loved ones the stress, cost and time of a Court application if one proved necessary.
If you’d like to discuss making a Lasting Power of Attorney or if you have any questions, please contact our friendly team on 0800 160 10 10.